Mixed use becoming crucial for major retail builds

Residential also mixing in with office and industrial projects as developers hedge their bets and widen their margins

Western Investor
March 9, 2020

Oakridge Centre
Oakridge Centre: known as a top shopping centre, its redevelopment includes more than 2,500 homes, a library, a nine-acre park, offices and, by the way, retail improvements. | Westbank

Oakridge Centre is best known as one of the most profitable shopping centres in Canada, but the makeover of the Vancouver mall will turn it into one of the biggest residential enclaves in the city.

QuadReal and Westbank are partners on the redevelopment project, which, once completed, will feature 10 towers of varying heights up to 44 storeys, as well as mid-rise buildings.

Plans include 2,000 market condo units, 290 market rental units, 290 City of Vancouver-owned below-market rental units, commercial, a community centre, a library, a seniors’ centre, performance spaces, a daycare and a nine-acre park. And, oh yeah, the redevelopment of the shopping centre.

The Amazing Brentwood development by Sharp Properties is transforming the old Brentwood Town Centre shopping centre into a gigantic residential development. Two of the tallest buildings in Burnaby, both 614 feet fall, and with 600 homes between them, are part of 11 residential towers being built on the site. 

When complete, the Amazing Brentwood will bring more than 6,000 homes to the community. There will be new shops, restaurants, office space and a one-acre civic plaza to host events and celebrations. Cineplex is also planning a VIP theatre. 

On the Coquitlam-Burnaby border, Shape is also taking the footprint of the old Lougheed Town Centre shopping centre to build 23 highrise towers that include an estimated 10,000 homes, one million square feet of office space and a refurbished and expanded shopping mall that will measure 1.4 million square feet.

The aging Coquitlam Centre mall, meanwhile, is being measured for a mixed-use development by Morguard Investments that proposes 11 residential towers bracketing a renewed shopping centre.

In Victoria, Aragon Properties has started a massive mixed-use project in suburban Esquimalt that will blend two residential low-rise towers and one rental building, offices and commercial space and a library in a complex known as the Esquimalt Town Square.

The strata component will have two six-storey buildings with 32 and 36 condominium units, with one- to three-bedroom units ranging from 678 square feet to 1,292 square feet. Sales started in October and the first homes are scheduled for completion in spring 2020. About 49,000 square feet of commercial space is also included. Ground-floor retail space will lean towards restaurants and pubs. 

With bricks-and-mortar retail struggling to gain traction in an online-consumer environment, it makes sense for shopping centres to mix in other real estate sectors, said Corrado Russo, senior managing director, investments, and global head of securities at Timbercreek, which has $7.5 billoon in assets under management. 

Russo pointed to RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust as an example. Canada’s largest REIT is leveraging transit-oriented retail assets it owns into mixed-use projects with a substantial mix of residential. In Calgary, RioCan has joined with residential developers in a $70 million mixed-use retail and residential redevelopment at its Brentwood Village Shopping Centre, which is served by Calgary’s light-rail transit. 

In Metro Vancouver, though, it is not only retail projects that are hedging their bets by mixing in other revenue streams.

Even the booming Metro Vancouver office market, which is experiencing the largest development cycle in history, includes projects where mixed-uses from retail to housing are included, according to the latest office report from Avison Young. 

Examples include Boffo Developments’ The Smithe, at 225 Smithe Street in downtown Vancouver, that will deliver 31,000 square feet of new office space located over three floors in the podium of a 27-storey condo tower. 

The Lonsdale in North Vancouver by Hollyburn has a rental residential tower that tucks 13,890 square feet of office and retail space into the first three floors.

Millennium Central Lonsdale, which will be built on the site of the former Northmount medical buildings, features a 26-storey residential tower as well as a five-storey mixed-use building with 34,000 square feet of office space on the second and third floors, along with ground-floor retail space when it opens in 2023.

The Offices at Lonsdale Square has 70,000 square feet of strata medical offices and retail, but also includes a seniors’ activity centre on the second floor. 

And, in what could become a trend, industrial, retail and residential are mixing in new projects in Vancouver, led by the Strathcona Village on East Hastings by Wall Financial. It is a condominium tower complex skirted by two floors of industrial, commercial and retail strata, most of which is sold out.

Frank O'Brien is the editor of Western Canada's biggest commercial real estate newspaper, Western Investor, as well as a contributing editor at West Coast Condominium, real estate contributor to Business in Vancouver and a regular media commentator on real estate investment.
Copyright © Western Investor

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